Rio 'worse than Athens' - Coates

29 April 2014

RIO 2016: The AOC President and IOC Vice President, John Coates, has described Rio’s preparations for the 2016 Olympics as “the worst I have experienced” and “worse than Athens” (2004).

Coates, who has made six visits to Rio as a member of the IOC Coordination Commission responsible for overseeing Games’ preparations said today the IOC has been forced to take “unprecedented” action embedding IOC experts in Rio’s Organising Committee to ensure the Games proceed.

Attending an Olympic Forum in Sydney he told delegates construction has not commenced on some venues, infrastructure is significantly delayed and water quality is a major concern just two years out from the Games. “The city also has social issues that need to be addressed”.

“The IOC has formed a special task force to try and speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground. The IOC has adopted a more hands on role, it is unprecedented for the IOC but there is no plan B. We are going to Rio” he said.

Among the IOC Taskforce sent to Rio is a construction project manager.

“We have become very concerned, they are not ready in many many ways. We have to make it happen and that is the IOC approach, you can’t walk away from this ” Coates said.

Australia’s new Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, addressed the coaches and performance leaders attending the Campaign Rio Forum. He told those gathered “he bleeds for the green and gold on the sporting field” and he was a bigger sports tragic than the former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard.

“Australians take enormous pride in our sporting accomplishments, we celebrate the success of our athletes very loudly” he said. “We are tough, fit and strong and skilled and we play fairly. Sport shows we are a peaceful nation”.

Campaign Rio, a partnership of the Australian Institute of Sport/Australian Sports Commission, Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Paralympic Committee, has set a goal of a top five finish on the medal tally in Rio. “I support the initiative” Sir Cosgrove said “we admire our athletes and we appreciate their sportsmanship because win or lose we want to be proud of those representing our country and wearing our national colours”.  

Mike Tancred

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